An IPPY Award Winning Author
Hannah Fielding's evocative romance books have won her multiple awards, including an IPPY Award for The Echoes of Love. Read more about her award-winning books on her website.
The Echoes of Love, by Hannah Fielding
Indiscretion, by Hannah Fielding
Legacy, by Hannah Fielding
Ten Places that Inspire Me to Write
Thoughts from an IPPY-Winner
I am fortunate enough to have travelled extensively, and to have lived in various countries, from England and France to Switzerland and Egypt. The novels I write are infused with my experiences of cultures and settings worldwide; as Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta said, ‘Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.’
Here are ten places I’ve visited or lived in that have inspired me to set pen to paper.
1. Aswan, Egypt
One of the most romantic places in the world, for me, is the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. Built on a granite promontory in the Nubian Desert on the banks of the Nile, the dark pink edifice, in the style of the Belle Époque villas of the 19th century, has retained all the beauty and splendour of yester-years. Sitting on the magnificent marble terrace overlooking the lush gardens of Elephantine Island, I can’t help but dream.
2. The Alhambra, Granada, Spain
The Alhambra is an amalgamation of fabulous Arabesque palaces and a fortress complex built by the Moors on a steep wooded hill. Rising upon its reddish crag, the palace is straight out of the Arabian Nights, and is startling in its beauty and its impact on the imagination. Here, within the silent walls, among the ghosts of emirs, slaves and beautiful princesses, dwells romance.
3. Oxford, England
The sheer weight of history is overwhelming, from the skyline of gentle domes and spires to the winding lanes and ancient buildings set around green quads. Add to the mix small groups of bright young people, a mosaic from all parts of the world, and an hour in a coffee shop watching this scene delivers more story ideas than I could ever properly explore.
4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Wild, rugged expanses left to nature’s will, with lakes of deep indigo framed by forest-green trees and majestic grey mountains whose tops pierce the sky… such a juxtaposition of colours blurring together to symbolise The Great Outdoors. Henry Miller once said, ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ In Yellowstone, I found a new understanding of America, and everything I saw made me want to pick up my pen and write.
5. Cadiz, Spain
I love Cadiz so much I set two of my novels there, Masquerade and Legacy. The Moors compared the city to a ‘dish of silver in a bowl of blue’, so vivid are the colours. It is a vibrant city; the most beautiful in Spain, I think: dazzling white houses and mellow-stone churches set on a rocky peninsula that juts into the dancing, glittering waters of the Atlantic. It’s one of the oldest cities in all of Western Europe, said to be founded by no less than Hercules himself. Everywhere you go there is a strong sense of history, of roots, making it the perfect setting for my novels in which the past is an inescapable force.
6. Venice, Italy
Venice was my main inspiration for my novel The Echoes of Love. I first visited the city as a young child. Then, as now, I was enchanted by the beauty of the city. I distinctly remember standing in the main square, the Piazza St Marco, gazing up at the stunning architecture of Saint Mark’s Basilica and feeling I had entered a fairy-tale world. Then I looked down, and saw hordes of ugly pigeons. As Erica Jong said, Venice is ‘the city of mirrors, the city of mirages’. My muse was inspired to capture the two faces of Venice in paper and ink – the mask she wears and the other, darker, form beneath.
7. The Rift Valley, Kenya
I can think of few places I have visited on earth that have such natural beauty. It was while watching a sunrise over the valley that I decided I must set my first romance novel in Kenya – the colours were spectacular, reminding me of Fauvist paintings. In Burning Embers I sent the characters up in a hot-air balloon so that they could take in the drama in which the broad, breath-taking landscapes of Africa are the stage and the animals – elephants, antelopes, flamingos, pelicans, impalas, hippos, buffalo, zebras, giraffes – the actors. Magnifique!
8. Tuscany, Italy
American poet Oscar Fay Adams put it best: ‘Tuscany, land of fierce hates and wild loves and of limitless passions.’ The Tuscan landscape is simply beautiful – the vineyards, the cypress trees, the colourful renders and roof tiles of the buildings. But it is the people that really captured my heart here, and the unique culture they have created in this ‘nation within a nation’. The region is infused with the legacy of the Renaissance, which was born here; this is the land of artists Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and writers Dante and Petrarch. How can one fail to be inspired?
9. Kent, England
Come the winter, when I am not travelling I’m to be found at my old rectory in Kent. When the weather is fine, I write in the garden – on one of the benches under shady trees or at a patio table. The orangery is a retreat for when the sun is too fierce or clouds cool the skies; when it’s wintry, I write by the log fire in the main house. If I need inspiration, I take a walk around the grounds, enjoying the flowers, visiting the ducks on the pond or wandering through the woods. I especially love it when snow blankets the ground; our village church is picture-postcard perfection then.
10. Ste Maxime, France
My French mas is set on a hill that affords wonderful views over the bay of St Tropez. Here I draw my inspiration very much from the vivid colours of the house and the landscape around. Whether I am inside or outside writing, I am always positioned so that I can see the sea. I also spend a lot of time at the beach, sitting for hours dreaming and plotting, and in the many pavement cafes in nearby towns, where I can sip a café latté and people-watch to my heart’s content.
Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, marrying an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided, after so many years of yearning to write, that the time was now. Today she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
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